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The color of unemployment

July 28, 2013

There are stark differences in unemployment figures for different racial and ethnic groups. Who fares best?

In an interview published Saturday in the New York Times, President Obama talked about unemployment and the income gap as key factors in ongoing racial tension in America.

Obama predicted that with continuing unemployment and inequality, "Racial tensions won’t get better; they may get worse, because people will feel as if they’ve got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot."

It's a fact that the recession has not affected all Americans equally. While overall unemployment hovers around 8 percent, the reality was much different depending on your racial and ethnic background. African-Americans had an unemployment rate of 14.1 percent, nearly double the rate of whites at 7.2 percent. Hispanics had the second highest unemployment rate at 10.2 percent. And Asians fared best, with 5.9 percent unemployment.

But Asians do not fare so well when it comes to long-term unemployment, those out of work for six months or longer. Unemployed Asians and African-Americans tend to stay unemployed for longer stretches of time.

Check out our infographic for more on unemployment’s racial disparities. See “What Do Others Say?” on the demographics, then add to the discussion below. What do these disparities say about the U.S.? How much is prejudice at play? Are President Obama's statements on the ties between race relations and unemployment accurate?